The first few months behind bars were the worst of my life. Every night I’d stare into the darkness, waiting for the nightmares, waiting to hear those horrible screams all over again. Even here behind these thick penitentiary walls, there was no hiding from what I’d done to that poor family.
Then, one night, it happened: I lay alone in my cell, my only companion the visions of wickedness that filled my head. Suddenly, there was a light, and somehow the light spoke to me. It was the voice of Jesus Christ. He told me he had died for the sins of mankind and all could find peace through his salvation. Was I ready to repent?
Uh, let me think about that for a sec. Yup!
It was a stroke of unbelievable luck. Here I thought I’d spend the rest of my life agonizing over that night I broke into a random house and methodically tortured all five of its residents, but Jesus was like, “Nah, you’re good.” He took all those years I expected to wallow in suffocating guilt for having forced a mother to choose the order in which I strangled her children and wiped them away in a jiff.
Which is ironic because the family I murdered in cold blood was praying to Jesus like crazy the whole time.
If it weren’t for the Savior, I’d still be living with a horribly tormented conscience like some chump. I used to think that maybe, just maybe, I could ease some of the unrelenting pain after a lifetime of good works and contrition. But once God’s grace washed over me—and that took, what, maybe 15 minutes at most?—I knew I was in the clear.
Bing, bang, boom. Salvation.
I mean, it’s too bad I’ll never get back those days I squandered on unbearable guilt, but Jesus bailed me out big time, so I’m not going to complain. No sense in living in the past. The man who took five innocent lives in brutal fashion and made himself a glass of chocolate milk afterward might as well be a totally different person. I walk in the Lord now.
And man, is it great! All those remorse pounds I lost came right back with my renewed appetite, and I’m sleeping better than ever. Sure, every once in a while, my dreams are interrupted by the image of that 6-year-old with a broken neck pointing at me, but that’s why I keep ol’ 1 John 1:9 taped to my ceiling: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Pretty straightforward, right? And it’s not like that kid isn’t in heaven right now, bathing in His loving light and everything.
See, God’s looking out for both of us.
I now know the power of forgiveness, because it was hand-delivered to me by the highest authority in the universe. It’d be nice if the friends and relatives of the Robinson family forgave me too, but you know what? That’s between them and God. All I can do is forgive them for having judged me. If they harden their hearts and turn away from His love—well, I can only pity them, really.
It’s a shame not everyone can move on from that horrible night, with its choked sobs, desperate pleas for mercy, and senseless bloody killings. But thankfully, I have.
Jesus has led me to a new path. I don’t know what lies ahead, exactly, but now that I’m not so sad all the dang time, I’ve thought about maybe trying to learn a foreign language. I’m leaning toward Japanese, even though I hear it’s pretty hard. The grammar’s supposed to be tricky, and there are all those weird characters you have to learn, too.
Of course, the laws of man will keep me physically behind bars for the rest of my life. But my soul has been set free by the Lord and by the sacrifice of His only son. Despite all my earthly sins, He has redeemed me. He always does.
Had I known that sooner, I would’ve killed way more people.
- « Look, Are We Going To Spend … (August 10, 2010)